Chennai Corporation’s ongoing desilting drive may worsen situation

The prospect of even getting out of their houses has become a harrowing thought for residents of many parts of the city. A putrid smell has settled over these areas due to the delay in removing the sediments collected from stormwater drains.

Residents of areas ranging from T. Nagar to Choolai complain of potential health hazards because of accumulation of silt. “ They started work last Monday and work is under way. But they have not bothered to remove the silt even after seven days. The whole area ends up stinking and we are afraid of diseases breaking out,” said D. Suresh, a resident of Choolai.

Santosh, another resident, expressed anxiety over children playing in the street. The entire stretch of the road is blocked because of the sediments, he added.

Residents of areas such as Neelakanta Mehta Street and Raja Street in T.Nagar voiced similar concerns.

The problem is likely to worsen with desilting work picking up in many more localities in view of the Chennai Corporation’s deadline of July 31 for completion of desilting of stormwater drains as part of the pre-monsoon preparedness. Of the 1400 km of stormwater drains in the the city, 400 km have been desilted so far and work on desilting another 1000 km will be completed soon, according to the Corporation estimates.

Councillors in some areas are supervising the desilting work and taking efforts to ensure the slit is removed as quickly as possible. “The work started in our ward two days ago. We have asked the contractor to remove the silt quickly and ensure that the area is not polluted,” said Bhavanishankar, a councillor in ward 103.

Corporation officials said the silt is usually removed only after two to three days once its gets dried up.

The quantity of silt will be more if it is wet. The contractor has to show the measurement of the silt in dry conditions for receiving payment from the civic body.

“We are ensuring that there is no waste of funds because of improper measurement of silt,” said an official.

Another civic body official attributed the stench emanating from the silt to illegal sewer connections in stormwater drains many residential areas. “The drain should not be wet during dry season. Lakhs of illegal sewer connections in these drains are yet to be plugged.”

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